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CYNIC

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • United States


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Cynic biography
CYNIC was formed in November, 1987 by guitarist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert. To finish up the lineup, Mark Van Erp (later of MONSTROCITY) was added on bass and a friend named Jack Kelly was added on vocals thus making CYNIC a four-piece. This early incarnation of CYNIC was focused on making only brutal death metal with primary influence taken from bands such as VENOM, POSSESSED, KREATOR and DESTRUCTION. It is this lineup that would later be featured on the release of their first, self-titled demo in 1988.

After Jack left in 1988, Paul took over vocal duties, Jason Gobel was added on guitar and and in 1989, they cut their second demo, entitled "Reflections Of A Dying World", consisting of four songs. All of the songs on this demo were of the speed metal/thrash genre, with even some punk elements incorporated within. This lineup soon began touring the south Florida area and bootlegs exist of them as far back as May of 1988. Soon after, Mark left the band, Tony Choy was added on bass and in 1990, CYNIC released their third demo (also self-titled). This helped to gain them a large following throughout southern and central Florida, as well as their constant touring and cameo appearances in the south Florida area. This new lineup would remain intact until at least 1991.

At this time, the bands' influences were already starting to change. While they were still listening to contemporaries like ATHEIST, and were still inspired by seeing how "sick" some bands would get to express themselves, their technical, musical and creative abilities were growing, and consequently, they began listening to more technical forms of music. Their primary influences soon included jazz and fusion, such as Chick Corea and Allan Holdsworth, but also bands such as WATCHTOWER and Frank ZAPPA. This change in technical abilities had already made its way into their songs as the band took a great leap forward in musicianship for their second and third demos.

By the early part of 1991, CYNIC had evolved into a progressive speed/death metal type band, although the band themselves didn't really consider themselves to be death metal. The music had the technicality of progressive speed metal, with the brutality and vocal qualities of death metal. They cut a fourth and final demo in 1991 (financed by RoadRunner Records) consisting of three tracks. Two of these tracks would, in a drastically different form, make it onto their debut album. In April of 1991, Paul and...
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Kindly Bent to Free UsKindly Bent to Free Us
Season of Mist 2014
Audio CD$7.81
$6.13 (used)
Traced in AirTraced in Air
Season of Mist 2009
Audio CD$5.34
$6.59 (used)
Re-TracedRe-Traced
Season of Mist 2010
Audio CD$5.13
$3.83 (used)
FocusFocus
Remastered · Extra tracks
Roadrunner Records 2004
Audio CD$7.86
$7.78 (used)
Carbon Based AnatomyCarbon Based Anatomy
Season of Mist 2011
Audio CD$5.27
$3.86 (used)
Portal TapesPortal Tapes
SEASON MIST AMERICA 2012
Audio CD$15.97
$15.99 (used)
Cynic - Carbon Based AnatomyCynic - Carbon Based Anatomy
Import
Season Of Mist
Vinyl$21.00
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CYNIC shows & tickets


  • Cynic + Dark Lunacy at Circo Volador, Ciudad de México on 31 Oct 2014

CYNIC discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

CYNIC top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.19 | 401 ratings
Focus
1993
4.12 | 414 ratings
Traced In Air
2008
3.68 | 127 ratings
Kindly Bent To Free Us
2014

CYNIC Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

CYNIC Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

CYNIC Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

CYNIC Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.06 | 11 ratings
'88 Demo
1988
1.76 | 10 ratings
Reflections of a Dying World
1989
2.41 | 9 ratings
'90 Demo
1990
3.03 | 10 ratings
Demo 1991
1991
3.14 | 9 ratings
Promo 08
2008
3.81 | 68 ratings
Re-traced
2010
4.03 | 92 ratings
Carbon-Based Anatomy
2011
3.55 | 38 ratings
The Portal Tapes
2012

CYNIC Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Focus by CYNIC album cover Studio Album, 1993
4.19 | 401 ratings

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Focus
Cynic Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by javajeff

5 stars This is nothing short of a prog metal masterpiece. The album is perfect and contains elements of prog and jazz infused with a death metal vibe. The musicianship here is astonishing, and dazzling, and the lyrics are delivered as they alternate between clean and growl vocals. You will not find a 20 minute song or a long album from Cynic, and it is just so disappointing when it is over. Any active prog listening should want more. I love all three of their studio albums, and listen to them straight through in my playlist. This album should not be overlooked by any music lover since there is something for everyone. I bought the Original recording remastered version with Extra tracks, and those tracks are worth it. This is a must buy along with their other two.

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 Kindly Bent To Free Us by CYNIC album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.68 | 127 ratings

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Kindly Bent To Free Us
Cynic Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Daggor

3 stars I think when the buzz started around Cynic's new album, Kindly Bent To Free Us, I was probably the only one in need of introduction. The band released a legendary album in the early 90s, titled Focus, that existed more in a death metal-inspired world of progressive music, which is probably why it flew under my radar for so long. After its beloved debut, Cynic returned in 2008 with Traced In Air, which by all indications, lived up to 15 years of hype. By this measure, at the time that the band settled in to release Kindly Bent To Free Us, the hype was absolutely through the roof.

All good things come to an end though, and as I was being introduced to Cynic on the first single, "The Lion's Roar," the very thing that caught my attention about the song was at the same time, alienating hordes of fans. Namely that, instead of technical death metal that embraced jazz fusion, I was met with jazz fusion embracing, well, itself really. I recognized that, in spite of a more streamlined genre approach, the band was brimming with talented musicians and interesting ideas, and so as older fans dropped the hype bandwagon, I was more than happy to pick it up myself.

There's something of a curse to hype, of course, and certainly an art form entirely unto itself when choosing which song to introduce new material to listeners with, especially when that new material is a stylistic departure. "The Lion's Roar" gave me indications of up-tempo jazz fusion, but as Kindly Bent To Free Us really unfolds, so much more of the release is somber, with post-rock leanings. The closing track, "Endlessly Bountiful", in particular stands almost exclusively on the vocal textures of Paul Masvidal's tastefully overproduced voice.

The band is actually much stronger with its more subtle passages, interlaced throughout the record, than the overt melodies that made "The Lion's Roar" the standout single that it was, and yet even as Cynic showed itself as being, in fact, more talented than what originally attracted me to the album, I still find its style to be one that is very difficult to fully appreciate. There's a lot of melodic recursion throughout the record, and as framing devices, they're absolutely wonderful. However, the juxtaposition of the different styles is difficult for me to wrap my head around. Similarly, there's moments like on "True Hallucination Speak," where the atmosphere of the song feels like it's aiming to be quite profound, except I'm hearing "Pop, pop snap crackle and pop," and now I'm thinking about breakfast cereal.

Kindly Bent To Free Us is tremendously successful at accomplishing Cynic's "loftier" artistic ambitions, and there's no lack of talent or tact, but on the bottom end I find it difficult to access, and lacking in a more simple appeal to accentuate the more intricate and advanced brilliance. While I can appreciate the accomplishments that Cynic achieves, I'm just not enjoying them very much.

3.0 // 5

Originally posted at www.blackwindmetal.com

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 Re-traced by CYNIC album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2010
3.81 | 68 ratings

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Re-traced
Cynic Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by SteveG

5 stars 'Under every good song is a great one'. That's what an old mentor of mine once told me and he was never more right about something than when he made that statement and Cynic's Re-Traced EP of reworked songs from the 2010 album Traced in Air is the proof. The EP features four songs from TIA and one new composition and is stripped of the bombastic assault found on TIA in that heavy guitars, tech metal drumming and growls are almost completely absent. Paul Masvidal still employs Vocoder effects but they are at a minimum and are only really noticeable on one song. Starting with TIA's opener The Space For This you are hit immidiately with morse code ryhthms of acoustic and electric drums as well as light stacato guitar ryhthms before Masvidal's ethereal vocal starts it's spell. This time around Tymon (not doing growls for this EP as the band have dispensed with them) helps out Masvidal with spooky waves of percussion like synths and strange space travel synth swirls that sound far from cliched or dated. Indeed, the synths no longer sound like thay belong to a '80's new wave band like the way they did on the Portal album. The future is finally here. Masvidal is one of those lyricists that takes you on an interior journey as the music takes you through the far reaches of space. The song also features a brief bizzare time changing middle section as synths, drums, bass and vocals slow down to a swirling warped speed waltz before resuming the voyage to the beyond. What's instantely recognizable is the beautiful melody of the song and the mystical lyrics, two things that seemed to get over looked on TIA as everything but the kitchen sink was thrown into the sound mix. Next up is a cover of Evolutionary that is more stripped down in appearence but is actually quite layed with guitars, more staight up rock drumming from Reinert and heavy fretless bass grooves from guest player Robin Zielhorst (Sean Malone was absent for outing but will re-appear on the band's next EP). Evolutionary also displays a great melody, beautiful yearning vocals from Masvidal and is another stunning re-interpretation. King is reshaped with jazz and it's remarkable how sympathetic drummer Sean Reinert is to this material as he has a wonderful sense of swing and really drives the song home. The last of the reshaped tracks, Intergral, is just Masvidal singing with only his acoustic guitar, light synth, organ and guest Amy Corria helping with harmony vocals as accompaniment. This song is the album's low point as it is just a bit too plaintive and the mystical lyrics (about reincarnation?) are lost on me. The final song, Wheels Within Wheels, is a new track that features shuddering bass from Zielhorst, great ryhthm and lead work from Masvidal and Tymon with Reinert back to his old power house technical self. The song could sit easily on 2014's Kindly Bent To Free Us and is an equal to the best songs from that album. Cynic is a band that claims to keep tunes and ideas in their pockets for a long time as they mull over the material. Perhaps this was the beginning of the Kindly Bent To Free Us material. Re-Traced is a bit of tease as it fades out after 25 minutes but it's an excellent opener for the group's next EP, the stellar Carbon Based Anatomy that was released in 2011. It's true, sometimes good songs just get better. As Re-Traced is another short EP by the band, I feel that 4.5 stars is a fair rating. Imagine if they remade the entire TIA album. That would have been 5 stars easily!

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 The Portal Tapes by CYNIC album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2012
3.55 | 38 ratings

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The Portal Tapes
Cynic Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by SteveG

3 stars Prog for the unwashed masses? With so little time actually working under the band name Cynic, it's amazing that guitarist Paul Masidal and drummer Sean Reinert (the core duo that hold together the working collective known as Cynic) have such a wealth of material to offer their fans. This time it's the demos of the Portal project that the two made in colaboration with former Cynic guitarist Jason Gobel and newcomers Chris Kringle on bass and female singer/keyboard player Aruna Abrams. Recorded roughly about 1 year after Cynic released the death metal/jazz fusion album Focus in 1993, this musical outing is far from extreme metal and leans heavily toward an experimental/keyboard prog sound. With Masvidal continuing in his role as mystical lyricist and Aruna supplying chime like swirling keyboard textures, the music, mostly executed at a mid tempo, often takes on a prog/new age sound hybrid that would be more at home after playing a later era Peter Gabriel or Soul Cages era Sting album. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, we can't listen to prog metal all the time, I'm only trying to give a musical point of reference. The album starts off quite strong with the afore mentioned swirling keyboards, acoustic and electric drums, clean guitar textures and a heavy fretless bass groove. Abrams has a clear pleasent voice but she's not going to shatter any wine glasses when she sings. Abrams is usually the lead vocalist with Masvidal supplying low multi tracked and echoed backing vocals that also swirl around the sound stage and is quite an aural treat. Unfortunately, the spell wears off by the fourth track and the band have no new tricks to present to the audience Even though the fifth and eigth tracks are also stellar, you just feel like your hanging on at that point, waiting for the forgetable ninth and the tenth final track to pass by quickly so that the album finally ends.That such a young band could produce such a reserved focused work as this, especially after two were members of the seminal Florida extreme metal band Death speaks volumes for their musical chops and dedication to the project. The remarkable art work by the late Robert Venosa adorns this album as well as all other Cynic albums and is still such a large part of the listening experience. The man's work is along the lines of H.R. Giger but with a spiritual bent. This is a hard album to call for as I stated, it really belongs on a playlist along side Peter Gabriel. The question is, would you bump a Peter Gabriel disc out of the way in order to play the Portal disc first? I think not. 2.5 stars for the music and great sound from the demos plus Venosa's great art work. Prog for the unwashed masses? Definately not.

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 Kindly Bent To Free Us by CYNIC album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.68 | 127 ratings

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Kindly Bent To Free Us
Cynic Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by javajeff

5 stars Kindly Bent To Free Us is my first album from Cynic, so I want it to be known that the merits of this release are not being compared to the other two albums that are highly rated. When I first saw that Cynic had shorter albums and no epic 20 minute songs, I was less than thrilled to give them a shot. Boy am I glad that I did, and now I am very excited to get the other two releases. This album touches on metal, progressive rock, jazz, and alternative rock. It has layers of depth, and I have not been bored for one second. I think the people that love prog want some complexity, and Cynic has it in spades. The precision of the musicianship is what initially grabbed my attention, but every listen unveils nuances from the very complex layers. There are times where I feel like I am listening to OSI, and other times when it feels like a fusion jazz record. I recommend this album to everyone that loves music.

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 Focus by CYNIC album cover Studio Album, 1993
4.19 | 401 ratings

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Focus
Cynic Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by SteveG

4 stars Refocusing on a vision. I don't think it's proper to examine Cynic's later albums and EPs without re- examining the group's unique 1993 death metal and jazz fusion debut album Focus. The album may have been genre bending at the time but I think it's safe to say that it was not popular among the death/tech metal crowd or even to the band's record label when it was released (if the prevailing stories are true), which was one of the key reasons for the band's break up one year later. It's eastern mysticism toned lyrics took death metal to quieter places. The combinations of growling lyrics and vocoder enhanced robotic vocals worked well to tell the stories amidst the riffing guitars as brilliant guitar leads were traded song by song by Paul Masvidal and Jason Gobel with Sean Malone revealing himself as a master of innovative fretless bass work as well as Chapman stick while drumming wunderkind Sean Reinert handles the incessant tech style drumming while infusing his own style into his drum work. For someone that's not a big fan of growling vocals, at least these are the type I can tolerate as they are for conveying lyrics and are not just growls for the sake of growling, which I find in many extreme forms of prog metal music. The standout tracks are still Veil Of Maya (probably the album's best),The Eagle Of Nature, I'm But A Wave To.., Urorboric Forms and How Could I. The 2004 remastered album features 3 remixed songs that give greater sound clarity along with 3 songs from the 1994 Portal demos project. I wish that the Portal material was forgone in place of more remixed Focus songs as the Portal material, while interesting, is very different from that of the Focus album, sounding like experimental keyboard based prog rock and are definitely out of place as bonus tracks. Focus is no better or worse than it was when I first listened to it in 1993. It seems to have gotten a bit overrated over time, as most genre defining albums do, but one thing that will never be surpassed is the high level of musicianship that I first encountered with this album. A level of musicianship that few in modern prog metal posses. Focus remains a unique vision that's been unaffected by the passage of time. I believe that single observation is what truly motivated me to write this review in the first place.

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 Traced In Air by CYNIC album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.12 | 414 ratings

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Traced In Air
Cynic Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by SteveG

4 stars At the edge of the in between. If you're into guitar tones and tech, you know that you have listen to music that is not always going to be your cup of tea in order to find out if there's something new going on. And so it was with me when I first listened to Cynic's debut album Focus back in 1993. It was as different as people described it to be. Part death metal, part jazz fusion, robotic vocals, extremely technical and definitely progressive. I did not like the growling death metal scene but the album definitely stood out. The players were fantastic, first off, and that drew me in. I just didn't know what to make of it at the time. The band broke up one year later and every now and again I would replay this fascinating oddity. I knew the band went through several incarnations with key members Paul Masvidal, Sean Reinert, and Sean Malone over the years under various other band names that were described as more pedestrian so I really never bothered to pursue following up on them. I believe the core trio reformed Cynic in 2007 (with Tymon Kryduidenier) and recorded and released this follow up to Focus in 2008 titled Traced In Air. With the death growls toned way down and Masvidals vocals less effected by Vocoder processing than on Focus, the album struck me immediately as a compromise, which was disappointing as the group still displayed links with the jazz fusion territory they cut into on Focus and demonstrated some absolute clinics in technical proficiency on the tracks Space For This, Evolutionary, The Unknown Guest, and King Of Those Who Know. I found a more middle ground approach on TIA with a more straight up metal style drumming from Reinert (with lightning fast tom fills and his bass drumming still stunning at times when not doing repetitive obligatory bass drum death fills) but with a more mundane bass rhythm backing from Malone (very disappointing as the man is a master of the fretless when he can cut loose.) Masivdal is the star of the album with some stellar leads and the songs contained some great riffs that had a lot of muscle with addition of Tymon on rhythm guitar in addition to his growling duties. Many Prog metal fans like this album and feel that I may be have a lukewarm attitude toward it because of the little appreciation I have for death metal. The opposite is actually the truth. I may not like the restrictions of death metal but if you going to do death, than do it loud and do it proud. A middle ground album like this may not be my cup of tea but it does have many impressive moments. For starters, the production values are excellent and the sound is super dynamic without sounding compressed. The song The Unknown Guest has great primal Viking like chants instead of growls that really add to the song and give variety to the album while the song Adam's Murmur has a great start and stop rhythm structure along with a tricky dragging snare beat that really nails the song. Much of the heaviness of Focus has been replaced with lighter and more melodic hooks and riffs. Again, for me this album is a low point in between Focus and Carbon Based Anatomy EP that followed TIA in 2011. After listening to TIA again after the group released 2014's superb Kindly Bent to Free Us, my opinions have changed very little in 6 years time. Perhaps first impressions do make lasting impressions. I rank the album at 3.5 stars but that's probably more like 4.5 stars to Prog metal fans that are not such a discerning old cuss like me. And it is better than anything DT is puting out right now, so go ahead, get it and crank up the volume to eleven!

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 Carbon-Based Anatomy by CYNIC album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2011
4.03 | 92 ratings

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Carbon-Based Anatomy
Cynic Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by SteveG

4 stars Cynic's 2011 EP Carbon Based Anatomy could be considered as a lead up to this years Kindly Bent To Free Us full length album but I feel that it stands on it's own. Long gone are the growling vocals and heavier sound of 2007's Traced In Air and the electronic/progressive reworkings found on the 2010 EP Re-Traced. While Paul Masvidal and company seemed to struggle to find a defining sound on the afore mentioned, CBA comes with a fully formed eastern toned spiritual vision. Starting off with guest's Amy Correia's chant like vocals floating atop washes of floating synths on album opener Amidst The Coals, we are soon transitioning into the title track with a fade in of Sean Reinert's and Sean Malone's Syncopated drums and bass with the ex-Gordian Knot bass man demonstrating his amazing finger speed with Masvidal laying down some heavy synth chords and a muscular guitar solo. The instrumental Bija is a clichéd Eastern tinged instrument with faux tabla, sitar, and the like and it is the EP's low point. Box Up My Bones starts off with Masvidal's slow chiming achingly beautiful guitar chords with another drum and bass fade in but this time with Reinert decisively invoking a synthesis of prog drummers from Bruford, Cobham to Peart with heavy rythyms that are fascinating without ever sounding derivative. Elves Beam Out is more of a straight up prog rock song with a heavy beat the fades into the ambient closer, Hieroglyph, which again features guest vocals from Amy Correia, this time in a spoken word tome. Correia's two guest tracks take nothing away from Masvidal who has greatly improved as a vocalist and grows ever more melodic. CBA is only 23 minutes long but it's a great "come down" album that I would recommend after playing any intense music or even by itself. Just breath in and out slowly and concentrate on your breaths.

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 Kindly Bent To Free Us by CYNIC album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.68 | 127 ratings

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Kindly Bent To Free Us
Cynic Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by SteveG

5 stars Your old gods are dead, but they still speak. Kindly Bent To Free Us, Prog-metal band Cynic's 3rd full studio album in 22 years (long story) is not the prog album your parents used to listen to. Hell, it's not even the prog album you used to listen to. This is prog for the 21st century and it sits in some uncomfortable territory. Fronted by guitarist Paul Masvidal, bassist Sean Malone and drummer Sean Reinert, they start you on your album journey on Hallucination Speak with a fade in of light synth washes and quiet churning guitars before introducing the song proper with louder crunching guitars that immediately hands off to chunky jazz inflected drum and bass rythyms as Masdival's clear vocal presents itself. His vocals will be the first and last non alien sound that you will hear on this album. The instruments will sound familiar, naturally, but It's the music that sounds alien and not in the way that you think it would. There are ghostly echoes of the prog giants that have gone before but in ways that are almost unrecognizable. Cynic's music feels as if it is an x-ray image of prog metal or like glimpsing the spirit of a departed loved one. There are traces of the prog metal music that existed before but it has been somehow metaphysically changed in ways that we'll never really understand. The album's second track, The Lions Roar, is more of a traditional anthemic prog metal song with subtle jazz inflections with an almost poppy chorus that belies it's complex layering. The title track is where we get into the heart of the beast which starts with slow melodic verses that switch over to waves of technical drum mastery by Reinert of manic flowing polyrythyms and intense bass drumming that is absolutlely breath taking before changing back to a slower pace as Masvidal and Malone both weave delicate melodies and a tricky time signature around him that then explodes into a locomotive powered percussion peice by Reinert supported by powerful and precise playing by Masvidal and Malone; so that it feels that a miss by any one of the three by even a fraction of a second would send the entire work crashing to the ground. These four signature song structures are repeated before the song concludes with an extended chorus that shows how Malone is so integral in assisting Reinert maintan a sense of groove in even their most technically proficient workouts. Infinate Shapes introduces an industrial guitar sound to go along with the jazz and tech fest while Moon Heart Sun Head continues the tech magic that builds up to a good old fashioned middle eight section that is introduced by rapid foot work and a heavy hits to Reinart's toms and snare that then starts off a majestic ascending major scale guitar solo that makes you think your on your way skyward toward a some cliched crecsendo before it unexpectably reverses back on it's self where it comes to pause for a split second on a minor note before resuming a rapid spiraling climb back up the fretboard where the solo finally resolves itself and evaporates into the either. This solo will give you the feeling of being pulled forward off your feet at the speed of light and just as quickly thrown backward again before slowing regaining your equalibrium. Gitanjali has spacey tribal like moans from Masvidal as well as more complex guitar playing throughout with Reinart back to his tasteful but never overplayed tech flourishs with creepy almost subliminal keyboard washes floating throughout the sound mix. Holy Fallout is an anthemic prog/tech metal closer that again shows off the skill of all three musicians before fading into How Bountiful, a gentle Masvidal thanksgiving tome to the earth and universe. Kindly Bent To Free US is an album that is deceptively complex and layered and demands a lot from it's listener (It took a lot from this reviewer to just remember this album's basic outline after just a few listens with songs that average a duration of no longer than 5 minutes): but it should be in every 21st century prog fans collection as it is one of those rare albums by a group on the cusp of becoming genre defining as well as genre breaking at the same time. Indeed, the old gods do speak.

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 Kindly Bent To Free Us by CYNIC album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.68 | 127 ratings

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Kindly Bent To Free Us
Cynic Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Kindly Bent To Free Us" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US progressive rock/metal Cynic. The album was released through Season of Mist in February 2014. It's been six years since the release of "Traced in Air (2008)", but in the intermediate time Cynic released the two EPs "Re-Traced (2010)" and "Carbon-Based Anatomy (2011)". They also put out an archival release in 2012 titled "The Portal Tapes", which is a re-release of the 1995 Portal demo. Portal was a shortlived project featuring the core members of Cynic, founded after the latter disbanded. In addition to working on those releases, Cynic have also toured. Probably more than they ever did when they were initially active. So in short there are several reasons for the long break between the two full-length studio albums. Another reason is probably the core philosophy of of the band. While they definitely don't lack neither drive nor ambition, there has always been a tranquil and laid back vibe about them and a feeling that they will only release something when they are 100% satisfied with the material they've written. On this album they work as a trio consisting of Paul Masvidal (vocals, guitars), Sean Malone (bass, Chapman Stick) and Sean Reinert (drums, keyboards).

The music on "Kindly Bent To Free Us" is probably best described as progressive/alternative rock/metal with jazz/fusion elements and a psychadelic vibe. The latter is mostly due to the sometimes Beatlesque vocal lines and harmonies, but the whole atmosphere reeks incense smelling rooms and laid back days in the sun. Paul Masvidal has always been fascinated by spirituality and although some of the lyrics on "Kindly Bent To Free Us" make absolutely no sense, they still bring a smile to my face and they generally suit the tripped out atmosphere of the album well. The organic and warm sound production also supports that particular atmosphere perfectly. I'm not going to say we're completely in hippie land, but the thought of peace loving hippies often cross my mind while listening to "Kindly Bent To Free Us". On the other hand there is a sweet melancholy to the music too, so it's an album that explore different emotions.

The album features a sound that is very different from what we've heard from the band before, and yet again it sounds unmistakably like Cynic. The tracks are generally less metal oriented (only subdued clean and mellow vocals on this one. No growling) and less technical in nature and also a little more tightly structured and as a consequence more easily accessible compared to earlier material by the band. That's not to say, that the music on "Kindly Bent To Free Us" is simple or that there aren't technically challenging parts being played, because that is far from the truth. There is still fusion influenced drumming and a very busy fretless bass (chapman stick is used too) driving the music forward, but on top, the guitars, the vocals and the keyboards flow in an almost carefree atmospheric fashion. The material is greatly dynamic with both loud parts and more mellow subdued parts.

While the new musical direction probably comes as a surprise (or a shock) for some listeners, it really shouldn't if you payed attention to the musical style on the two preceeding EPs, which both featured a mellow and pleasant sound with only few metal elements. Also if you're familiar with Paul Masvidal's and Sean Reinert's alternative rock project 'on Spoke, the sound on "Kindly Bent To Free Us" might not be so surprising after all.

The 41:52 minutes long album features 8 tracks (9 if you own the deluxe CD book, which features the bonus track "Earth Is My Witness"). it's an album with a great flow, and while the material is consistent in quality and style, there are still enough variation between tracks, to easily distinguish between them. Telling the tracks apart is also helped along by the melodic and quite memorable vocal melodies. At first they might not seem that memorable, but once they get in your mind, they stick. A good example is the opening melody line in the title track, which returns in various forms throughout that track.

So is it any good? Well...this is definitely one of those releases where the listener's expectations and will to accept and embrace new musical ideas will be seriously tested. Cynic are still mostly known in progressive extreme metal circles and most of their fans probably come from that segment, and since they've considerably toned down the extreme metal elements here, the music on the album might not go down too well with the part of their fan base that still see them primarily as a metal act. On the other hand they've undeniably progressed and developed their sound in accordance with their creative muse, and it's always fascinating when an artist pursue what they really feel for instead of trying to satisfy their more conservative fans. In other words this is a fan base divider. Personally I find the album incredibly charming. I don't know what it is about Cynic, but with or without death growls, metal elements, furious fusion drumming, and blistering jazzy guitar solos, they always manage to transport me to a tranquil place and leave me in a completely relaxed state of mind. The music on "Kindly Bent To Free Us" is no exception. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

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